Cute Little Thing


I spend Saturday evening writing, then take a walk around West Hollywood. I like to walk the streets sometimes, rather than watching Netflix  or scrolling through Facebook before bed. I’m starting to realize there are nights I need to be around, but not necessarily socialize with people. West Hollywood at 1am is perfect for watching young gays flirt, older gays having slow, languid dinners, homeless gays running whatever angle they’re running that night.  I haunt these streets, walking toward or away from nothing,  past the thoroughfare, past the streams of five and dime weekend gays who take the freeways in from Van Nuys, Antelope Valley, Orange County. These boys only get to be gay twice a month, and they arrive pre-gamed and ready to hit the town hard. 

Usually I’ll park on Crescent Heights and walk down to Robertson, past that nightmare-of-the-future dry cleaners, decked out like an Apple store, stark, shiny white plastic faux mid-century Scan design. Signage serving Deep Space Nine realness – trying to, anyway. It reads as an attempt to make a connection between some sleek idea of a technological age, and the boring dry cleaning business it actually is. The sign says something like “Valet, Direct to Your Door,” or some such nonsense. It occurs to me, if this is your business model, why spend the money on an antiquated-yet-sleek attempt at a brick and mortar store? This whole effect could be achieved digitally. You could spend a tenth of the rent money on digital ads, and have the dry cleaning done in a much cheaper space, down by the airport. “I have to run your business for you?” I ask myself as I slouch by.

This is what’s wrong with the world. I have to run everyone’s businesses for them. Unbelievable. 

I think of other, semi-infuriating businesses in the neighborhood. Just Food For Dogs, a store (a chain, no less) encouraging yuppie dog owners to come in and design ultra-nutra-herbi-ganic dog food tailored to what they think their dogs might need to best extend and optimize their health. Beef and russet potato, chicken breast treats, do it yourself fish nutrient blend – all things sounding like they might be human food, and indeed, priced similar to appetizers at a mid-grade restaurant. Just Food For Dogs made me livid, when I first moved here. You don’t want to be driving around Weho, feeling  poor, lonely, invalidated, just to realize your average homosexual living in this neighborhood is so far removed from poverty as to be able to feed his dog restaurant food at least once a day. I quickly multiply eleven dollars a day, with 365 days in a year, with 12 or so years. Almost 50 grand. Could buy an embarrassingly nice luxury car with that, pay for a year at UCLA, get really exquisitely done plastic surgery.  

I can’t catch a break in this town, I used to think, but somebody’s French bull dog is walking around here thinking she’s Madonna. 

I make a note to myself. Dog Yoga, I scribble into an idea pad I sometimes keep on my person. Dog Yoga is definitely going to be the key to establishing my polyamorous gay compound up in the Hollywood Hills. 

I’ve actually been thinking of polyamory a lot, lately. I mean, I’ve always been poly-minded, but lately, when someone asks me if I’m dating anyone, I immediately answer “I’m dating everyone.” Nobody ever thinks it’s funny, but I do. People get tense about poly, I think. Disney gays, especially, somehow. So vulnerable to narrative, I guess… Plus, they act like the simple fact that you said you were poly means they have to justify monogamy, which they absolutely do not. This happens at Mickeys. I duck inside the two story dance club and make a pass through. Near the downstairs bar a very handsome, very nicely built young man catches my eye. He gestures me to come talk to him. He’s been drinking and his first question is “Are you looking for a boyfriend?” 

I’m looking for 3 boyfriends, I answer, and he turns away immediately. Now he refuses to talk to me. I think this is funny and play dumb for a few minutes, grabbing his elbow and explaining how there will be a ginger college twink, some indie musicians and a corporate lawyer who pays for all of us. He looks confused and I ask if he’s a corporate lawyer. He is now annoyed and starts stank-facing me. I blow him a kiss as I’m leaving.

I can’t stand when people approach you, then ignore you when they decide you’re not going to suit their immediate needs. Like, it’s my fault he was attracted to me and wanted to say hi? So I’m not boyfriend material, so what? Does that mean you should treat me like I don’t exist, after you started a conversation? Take some responsibility for yourself. It’s not like I’d divulged I was running a white slavery ring.

Youth, I think as I’m leaving the bar – at least it’s a curable disease.


At Mother Lode there is another sweet faced boy with a great smile. He’s wearing a silver bolero-style necklace. The clasp, a hollow equilateral triangle, hangs near his sternum. His eyes are bright but somehow vacant. He’s been drinking quite a bit. I leave without talking to him. There are nights when I’m out I feel like I’m hunting. There are nights, too, when I feel like I’m fishing. But tonight I just needed to take a walk, clear my head, hear a little music and catch lively energy from people walking by. I head out onto Santa Monica, and cross back onto the main drag, near Rage, and Trunks, and Boots and Saddle. 

I lean against a tree in the thick of things, watching the stream of wasted, buzzed, tipsy people walking by. Maybe half the people seem genuinely happy to be out and about. Some have closed body language, folded arms, shaking heads. They’re giving their boyfriends or friends the business. Some seem legitimately sad, on the verge of tears. One boy is actually crying, having broken off from a larger group of pals. Another guy is ineptly trying to console him. His other friends mill around and toe the sidewalk, discussing whether to call it a night or push through the emotional outburst and head to the next club. 

“It isn’t fair!” The boy is nearly grief stricken. “We’re supposed to be out celebrating! Why can’t we just go out and celebrate each other? Why do we have to be cunty and mean?”

“Because it’s fun,” a rather tall, attractive, guy from the larger group shouts over to the boy crying on the sidewalk. I hear another of their friends chuckle softly. “Get over it, girl – nobody has time for your crying on a Saturday night!”

I want to reach out to the crying boy, to say – hey, the problem isn’t you, it’s people. What’s more, it’s the idea that you need lots of friends. You don’t need these ten people who care more about getting two more drinks in them before they drunk drive back to Orange County. You only need to focus on the one person in this group of ten who actually cares that you’re crying. That’s your friend. Rather than trying to have ten good friends, try to have one, then one more, them maybe one more. 

I also want to reach out to the mean, good looking guy trying to preserve the sanctity of his own Saturday night party. I feel like, if I buy him a drink and show him some charm maybe I can show him what empathy is and fix him with my penis. Obviously that’s not true, he’s an awful person who should work at a junkyard forever, but I could still try to fix him with my penis. Maybe I could have furtive, emotional, passionate sex with him for a couple months before looking into his beautiful, selfish eyes and finally walking away, realizing he’s not good enough for me to waste the good sex on. 

Worth a shot, I say audibly to myself as I walk away, not at all giving it a shot. Also, I remind myself, he’s 22 and you’re two decades older than him – the only person thinking of you as a variable in this sexual equation, is you. I laugh at myself. 

I walk farther away from all the sturm and rabble and crapola. Past Gym Bar and even further east. This entire stretch of West Hollywood is shuttered for the evening. ABCs of Dance, Total Tan, weed dispensaries all wait for the sun to come up and respectable business hours to resume. Monaco Liquor is the only wee-hours holdout. Yellow illuminated sign with red writing, straight from the mid 80s and full of dingy linoleum tile flooring, Monaco Liquor is exactly what you want from ghost town WeHo. An indolent clerk has a one sided blue tooth conversation in a language I don’t comprehend. He’s not concerned with me in the slightest, and won’t make eye contact when I ask about the restroom. I debate between getting a small package of Oreo’s or some pork rinds (higher fat/salt, but much lower carb/sugar). In a supernatural display of self control I simply purchase a Perrier and continue down the street.  Man, I think to myself, selecting the zero-calorie option is almost as satisfying as fixing that rotten twink with my penis. Think of the time and money I’m saving! I laugh at myself again. 

I walk up the stairway to the dark, powered down Trader Joe’s complex. There’s a spot in the abandoned parking lot where I urinate. I notice pamphlets for HIV testing and used condoms on the ground. Good, I think, someone made a responsible choice. 


I walk back down to Santa Monica, choosing a bench outside some strip mall. A cute guy is making his way up the lonely cityscape toward me. Oh shit. It’s the boy from Mother Lode – the one with the triangle necklace. He comes closer. He is smiling. He has black, straight hair, fair skin, and a killer smile. Love that smile of his. Hello, he says, and plops down next to me. What a cutie, I think to myself, and he’s just starting to become aware of his own cuteness. He’s just starting to realize a good outfit, some posture, and a pinch of self esteem can turn a scrawny twerp into a cute little thing.

That’s the real trick to life, I think. 

Cute Little Thing starts in immediately, a monologue about how he knows it’s the strangest thing in the world to just sit down next to a stranger and start up a conversation with them, but you know what, that’s just how he is, because he’s just like his favorite writer, have I heard of David Sedaris? Well, he’s a writer and used to work odd jobs that were strange, or cultivate amphetamine addictions – just to have something to write about and even now that he lives in Europe, he still does things to have something to write about like picking up trash on the side of the road, or French classes or whatever – and maybe I should think about doing things like that if I really want to be a writer, but whatever he’s just glad to live in WeHo finally, even if it is as far east as Fairfax; it’s still much better than living with family in Orange County, and by the way why don’t I do interesting things like David Sedaris?

I respond that I sometimes do interesting things, and he immediately hits me with a skeptical, like what? I rack my brain and come up with a vignette about a time when I was in college and some attractive older guy was hitting on me in a noisy New Orleans gay club, and how he said, let’s get out of here and go back to my place. That’s not interesting, that’s pedestrian, Cute Little Thing says, and I explain that, yes, he’s right, but the interesting thing is that while we were walking out of the club the older man pulls out a collapsable cane, and is visibly limping down the road next to me. I explain that in my drunkenness, and the loud darkness of the club, I didn’t realize he’d recently had a stroke and was mostly paralyzed on one side.


Ew, says Cute Little Thing, but he wants to know what happened. I explained that I went ahead and went home with the guy, who wound up being extremely into S&M, and wanted me to abuse his left side, the semi-paralyzed side, so the echoes of feeling would remind him that, possibly, mobility was coming back. 

Cute Little Thing is not happy with this. This is not a Sedaris-worthy activity. “That’s your own shit to deal with,” he says, and now it’s all stank face and frustration, and Snapchat. I’m extremely amused. He’s acting jealous, maybe? He’s drunk enough not to remember the sequence of events and now he doesn’t like how I brought something sexual and vulgar into a conversation, even if he himself was asking for examples of interesting situations I’ve put myself into. Now he’s totally into his phone. I sit, silent, next to him, looking across the street. I want to say something. I know I can change the subject and start trying to be charming. I know he mentioned he lives on Fairfax because we’re close to Fairfax and he’s fishing for a late night tussle. It’s not difficult to get this back on track.

But, I don’t. I want to see what will happen if I don’t offer him a way out of his own judgmental mood-swing. Lately I’m getting tired of other people holding me accountable for their mood swings, if I’m being completely honest. Cute Little Thing is collateral damage tonight, for the behavior of other people who are closer to me. He sighs, and wonders aloud if he should head back west, and keep dancing. I remind him that the bars close at 2, but I think one of them stays open late if he wants to just dance. 

“The problem is,” he says, “I can’t get any of my friends to text me back. That’s the real reason I sat down and started talking to you.” I give a plaintive, patient smile, put my arm on his shoulder, make deep eye contact and say, hey, that’s okay – David Sedaris would have done the same. There is a brief breath, a pause. Then Cute Little Thing is annoyed. Whatever, goodbye, he says. I let him get about a quarter of a block away before yelling out after him. He whips around and says, what?!

Thanks for saying hi, I say. It was flattering. You’re a Cute Little Thing.

That’s all it takes. He’s suddenly rushing back toward me. He jumps up and throws his arms around me. There is an awkward moment. I squeeze him. I’m so much bigger than him. He feels fragile, almost. I bet he felt like a scrawny twerp most of his life. 

“You’re adorable,” I say. “Go see your friends.”

“Thanks for chatting with me,” he says. “I really did like you, a little.”

He hurries off down the street. I tilt my head up and watch him go. I think of this evening, of the boy who dismissed me because I wasn’t boyfriend material, about the transactional nature of all my exchanges tonight. With bouncers, with boys, with cashiers. I see Cute Little Thing slow his gait and approach a small group of other boys. He adjusts his posture, hiding hints of scrawn and twerpitude. He’s a completely different person now. I tilt my head back down, perpendicular to the street. 

Suddenly, I am no longer looking down my nose. 


-2

 

MonDATE: Bisexuals and the Right to Privacy, Part Two

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Him: You’re being extremely unfair!

Me: I’m sorry about that. Did you see August Osage County? What did you think?

Him: Seriously, are you Bisexual?

Me: I keep thinking if I hadn’t seen the Broadway play, I might have really liked the movie. I liked it quite a bit, actually, but I might have been blown away if I hadn’t watched the Broadway show twice.

Him: Don’t change the subject! Stop it.

Me: Julia Roberts really blew the doors off the hinges. It’s worth seeing just for that.

Him: I didn’t see it yet, okay?

Me: Okay. No spoilers, then.

Him: I’m asking you a question, and you’re avoiding it.

Me: I don’t see why I owe you the information. It’s just information, after all.

Him: I read your site for years. I’m extremely curious. What happened? It seems like you’ve made a 180, and I don’t know what to make of all of it. It seems…

Me: Don’t trail off. How does it seem?

Him: Hypocritical. It seems hypocritical. Sorry.

(There is a long pause. I sit on a bench at the bus stop.)

Him: You waiting for a bus now?

Me: Only if it’s an express bus to Canada.

Him: What does that mean?

Me: I dunno. It’s about half a joke. I’ll let you know when/if there’s a punch line.

Him: Hey. I’m sorry I called you a hypocrite – just how I see it.

Me: Ha. Then you’re not really sorry! You’re frustrated about quite a few things, and I’d suspect the root of it has very, very little to do with me.

Him: You can’t just… You can’t write about the gay community for years, and talk openly about being a poly-amorous homosexual – you can’t run some sort of online ‘brotherhood of man’ pie cult for the gays, and then just get married to a woman. Just, poof, you’re married and normal again. Just like that.

Me: Can’t I? Why can’t I? Why can’t I marry whomever I want? Isn’t that the underlined point behind the Marriage Equality movement?

Him: Don’t you feel you owe people like me an explanation?

Me: Why?

Him: Because I am one of your readers. Because I’m your audience.

(There is a long pause.)

Me: Well… thank you. I’m flattered you’re reading, that you’re still reading, and that you took the time to contact me. All of these things are incredibly flattering, and part of me agrees with you. A huge part of me thinks I owe it to you to tell you exactly how my sex life is structured, what it means to be LGBTQ in a traditional marriage structure, and send you home with a slice of pie and a warm feeling of hope for tomorrow.

Him: That’s what I’d like, yes.

Me: Then again, I’ve read quite a few books on writing, and while authors agree it is important to have an audience, they seem to also agree that catering things to your audience leads to atrophy in a major way. Bill Cosby said something like, I don’t know what the formula for success is, but I know the formula for failure is trying to please everyone.

Him: Teach me, oh wise one.

Me: I’m not getting paid to teach you, or, for that matter, to tell you how to live your life, or to tell you how I live mine.

Him: Okay, I’ll admit – it’s none of my business.

Me: Thank you.

Him: But I’m CURIOUS.

Me: Yes. You’re curious. That’s exactly right. You expect me to tell you intimate details of my personal life to you, the way I would to my therapist, because you read my site for a while and you feel somehow entitled to missing information. But you’re just an audience member. You’re just tuning in. You don’t know me and you have no real right to my inner physical, emotional, or intellectual life, beyond what I publish on my site, which by the way you read for free – so I owe you even less.

Him: People are going to want to know! You wrote about your sex life for years!

Me: No. Incorrect. I did not.

Him: Yes you DID. You’re being a hypocrite!

Me: Actually, I wrote about awkward dates, urban alienation, and my disappointment in a community full of brilliant, motivated, socially broken people. I almost never mentioned who I was having sex with.

Him: Come off it. You were sleeping with all those boys who made pie with you.

Me: Incorrect. Those were models, or friends, or people who contacted me online who wanted to help. It was very rare I slept with the people on my site.

Him: What?

Me: The “Awkward Dates” happen with people I don’t sleep with. That is the whole point: Here’s how NOT to sleep with me. The irony is, it’s pretty easy to sleep with me, if you’re cute and sweet, but most gay people have no interest in being kind, gentle, or generous of spirit – at least the ones who live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn don’t. They think they don’t have to, and in some sense, they’re correct. Someone will stomach their painfully underdeveloped, spoiled, sour personalities. But that someone isn’t me…

Him: Still seems hypocritical to me.

Me: You’ve now called me a hypocrite three times.

Him: So?

Me: So take a deep breath.

Him: Why?

Me: I’m about to tell you what I think about you.

(Pause. He looks concerned. I take a deep breath and count to ten.)

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

MonDATE: Bisexuals, and the Right to Privacy – Part One

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Him: Hello, are you Michael?

Me: Yes. You’re Sam?

Him: Yes. Hi. Nice to meet you.

Me: You too, Sam, I like your shirt.

Him: It’s Hollister.

Me: I like it anyway. Wanna take a walk?

Him: A walk? That sounds so weird and creepy, in the middle of the night.

Me: Is it? I just don’t really want to go drink right now. I’m trying to shed the winter layer.

Him: But isn’t a bar… Safer, somehow?

Me: We can stick to Colorado – it’s well lit. I’ll try to resist the urge to take you to a park and chop you into small pieces.

Him: That’s what I meant when I said weird and creepy!

Me: Let’s operate off the assumption neither of us is a murderous sociopath?

Him: You don’t seem like a sociopath to me.

Me: Thanks, man! I like your attitude!

(We walk for a while, chatting. I find out things about him. He’s in medical school. He’s into extreme sports, hiking, and surfing. He seems nice enough, and he’s no dummy. He’s read most of Kurt Vonnegut, so he gets points.)

Him: So, I guess you’re wondering why I’ve contacted you?

Me: I guess I am, now that you mention.

Him: I wanted to ask you a question. Do you mind if I ask a personal question?

Me: No, I guess not, as long as you don’t mind not getting a full answer, depending on the question.

Him: Haha, fair. Fair enough.

Me: What’s the question?

Him: Well, I have a few questions. Firstly, are you bi-sexual? I read your site for a long time and I always assumed you were gay, but now you’re married to a woman, and what’s the deal? Is she a lesbian? Does she need a green card, or whatever?

Me: Oh wow. I thought personal question meant something like ‘boxers or briefs?’

Him: No. You clearly wear briefs. I’ve seen your Instagram.

Me: Fair enough.

Him: Are you bisexual?

Me: Let me ask you a question. I’ll answer yours, but let me do the rudest thing and follow up a question with another question. Does it matter?

Him: What?

Me: Does it matter? The difference between me being Gay or Bi? Or even straight?

Him: What do you mean? Of course it matters. Of course .

Me: How so?

(There is a pause. He looks confused.)

Him: Do you realize, I’ve read you for years?

Me: No, I usually go into these meetings pretty blind. When I meet with people it’s much more likely they’ve lurked or stalked me, whereas I might only have a brief email and a fuzzy photo to go on.

Him: But how can you do this? You talked about Gay dating, alienation and minority rights for years. How do you just get to marry a woman and continue on like nothing happened?

Me: Because nothing happened. I got married. It was pretty important to me, in the scope of my life, but in the grand scheme of human events, it’s not even a blip on the radar. It’s just a marriage. Most people do it at least once.

Him: But why a woman? Are you Bisexual?

Me: Again, I don’t see how that matters. It’s clear that I’m definitely a member of the LGBTQ community. Right? And, consider this: you haven’t told me your sexuality, yet you seem to think it’s fine to pry about mine and my wife’s?

Him: I’m Bi.

Me: Okay, good. I’m Queer.

Him: What does that mean? In what sense?

Me: It means I am as Gay as Kurt Cobain.

Him: What about your wife?

Me: She’s whatever she is.

Him: Stop. This is frustrating.

Me: This is nobody’s business. One of the perks of marriage is people stop prying about who does what, when, with whom, and how.

Him: But I’m curious!

Me: Well, that’s flattering. Are you openly Bi?

Him: What?

Me: Do people know you’re Bisexual?

Him: Some people do.

Me: Your family?

Him: No. My brother knows, I think, but by and large, no.

Me: Your work friends?

Him: No. I don’t want them thinking I’m weird, or off.

Me: Your friends from school?

Him: No.

Me: So, pretty much, just the people you have sex with.

Him: You make it sound sad.

Me: No, you make it sound sad. You’re the one who made those choices.

Him: It’s just what happened. I’m a victim of circumstance.

Me: You’re what? 28? 27?

Him: I’m 30 this year.

Me: Okay, well, welcome to the club. I’m going to say something, and I hope you don’t get offended.

Him: Are you going to call me a Jerk?

Me: I don’t do that anymore, Jerk. Just kidding. No, just this: There’s no such thing as a victim of circumstance. Not really. I believe life is a series of choices. It’s in the art of choosing we discover what kind of man or woman we become. If you don’t like your circumstances you have a right to make a different choice. It might be more difficult to make a courageous choice. It might, in fact, be stupid to make a courageous choice. It might make your life more of a struggle to make an honest choice, or to have enough integrity to look your family in the eye and say, here’s what I am – here’s how I was born and here’s the way things are for me. I’m sorry you feel differently about how I should live my life, but then again, my life is the only thing that is arguably entirely mine – and I’m the one who has to live it.

Him: What’s that have to do with the way the world is?

Me: To say you’re a victim of circumstance is a bit misleading when you’re the one creating your own reality.

Him: That’s arrogant. That’s incredibly arrogant, and I knew you’d say something like that. I knew you’d come up with a way to make me being down low about my sexuality my fault. My sexuality doesn’t define who I am anymore than my liking baseball defines who I am. Why do I have to make a huge issue of who I’m sleeping with? Doesn’t my mother deserve a good birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving without me ruining everything by talking about sex with dudes? Why are people so obsessed with where I’m putting my penis? It’s nobody’s business.

Me: And yet, you’re so very obsessed with where I’m putting mine.

(There is a long pause. He starts to speak, then stops, then looks confused.)

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

 

Broken Bird, Part Three

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Him: It’s good to see you.

Me: You too. I haven’t seen much of you since Thin Skin Jonny went on hiatus.

Him: I’ve been around. I’m in school, too.

Me: How’s Bobby?

Him: Back with James Blackheart. He moved out.

Me: Again? That’s a shame. How was living with him?

Him: I loved living with Bobby Finn. I used to say we ran a bed and breakfast. Bobby provided the bed and I provided breakfast. I got to meet so many new people.

Me: I know the feeling. It was a circus here, for the two months he stayed…

Him: Yes, well… That’s Bobby for you.

(pause)

Me: Why did he turn his back on me, do you think?

Him: (sighs) I don’t know. I couldn’t or wouldn’t say, even if I did know.

Me: Well, I find it extremely unfair. He freeloaded off me for months and now won’t answer my txts, phone calls, or emails. He’s blocked me on Facebook.

Him: Did you say anything nasty to him?

Me: NO! He’s been out of town for about 4 months doing that theater gig in Kansas. I asked him to have lunch with me and go shopping. I wanted to say goodbye before I left for the West Coast.

Him: Maybe he doesn’t want to see you?

Me: That’s clear, but don’t you think it’s a little rude? I give the guy a place to stay, because he’s being “abused,” and then he gets to turn his back on me?

Him: Bobby just doesn’t understand your decisions lately.

Me: So what? Neither does my Mother, or most of my so-called friends, colleagues, acquaintances or whatnot. Doesn’t matter. When someone announces a wedding you pretend you’re excited, at least. You don’t head for the hills, because you are gay and reserve the right to hate all women, categorically, except your mother.

Him: Quite a few gay men operate like that.

Me: I know that, but don’t I get to expect more of Bobby? I took him in. I put him on the most well-respected comedy stage in NYC. I held him when he cried, and bought him lunch sometimes, if it was clear he was hungry. Why does he have any sort of moral high ground, here?

Him: You’d have to ask him.

Me: That’s the problem. Rather than take me for a walk in the park and ask how I’m doing, inquire about my assault and the PTSD that triggered – rather than congratulate me on my marriage, or say goodbye to an old friend who’s moving 3000 miles away – rather than any of that, he just ignores me. No explanation.

Him: Perhaps he feels that sort of goodbye is preferable to an argument?

Me: There’s nothing to argue about. I don’t have to ask his permission to get married, man or woman. I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission to have a nervous break-down. When women do it, it’s called a ‘rough’ period. When I do it, I need an analyst. I like my analyst, by the way.

Him: That’s good.

Me: Here’s what isn’t good.

(pause)

Me: I ran into Clive, a few months after Bobby left and moved in with you.

Him: I always thought he was cute.

Me: Me too. Not my usual type, but super cute. Anyway, Clive told me that Bobby wasn’t abused at all – at least not physically like he claimed. Clive told me Bobby smashed the wine glass on his own face. He knew the cops were coming and he wanted to look like a victim. He wanted to force James to let him stay in the fancy apartment.

Him: What’s the difference? Does that make him an awful person?

Me: Are you kidding me? He lied to me about being abused, paid nothing to live here, and started undermining me in the band as soon as he moved in with you. He took my kindness and showed me contempt.

Him: You’re just describing human nature.

Me: All of those things I could forgive. He’s younger than me (but getting older – red heads should stay out of the sun) and I could have forgiven those annoying things, but this… How dare he turn his back on me. How dare he join the ranks of former friends who won’t return my calls, simply because I married a woman.

Him: Quite a few people don’t understand that, Michael. You were so vocal about gay rights for so long…

Me: So what? One doesn’t have to be gay to believe in human rights. One also doesn’t have to be straight to marry a woman. It’s reason to ruin a friendship? He should have hung around and made up with me. Stupid, trusting Michael would have probably made him dinner and opened some wine.

Him: Maybe it’s just not the right timing for you two right now.

Me: Exactly. It’s not the right timing because I finally have nothing left to give that selfish little…

Him: Say it. You’ll feel better if you say it.

Me: Human being. Bobby Finn is a real prime example of a human being.

(Marco Bright laughs. I start crying. Marco puts on a pot of hot water.)

(pause)

(Soon enough we are laughing and writing songs again.)

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Tuesdate: Flashback to 2011 – Broken Bird, Part One

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Him: Thanks for answering the phone.

Me: My god, of course, Bobby. Of course. What the hell happened?  Do you want some tea, or… I have some braised pork in the fridge? I’m going to make some food.

Him: I know it’s way before five, but do you have anything stronger than tea?

(pause)

Me: Yes. Yes I do. I guess bourbon is okay?

Him: That’s fine. Have one with me?

Me: No. I have to teach later, but you can have my shot. I’ll pour a double.

(long pause, sets cutlery, boils water, makes food and drink)

Him: I guess you’re wondering what happened?

Me: James Blackheart happened?

Him: Yep.

Me: Who hit you? You look like you got into a fight with an elephant.

(pause)

Me: Do you need a hug?

(they embrace for a long tme, Bobby shakes, trembling)

Me: Okay, let’s sit back down. I don’t like this side of you. You’re too good looking to walk around with cuts and bruises on your face.

Him: He stopped taking his meds.

Me: And then what?

Him: He came home late at night and started throwing my things into the hallway. He was with another boy, and started screaming about how I didn’t live there anymore.

Me: Wait, what? He came home with another guy? Did you two break up?

Him: We were talking about it, but he’s constantly talking about that sort of thing. He’s not stable when he doesn’t take his meds.

Me: Or even when he does…

Him: He works very hard and makes a lot of money.

Me: So did Kim Jong Il.

Him: He’s a good provider, Michael. You don’t see that side of him, or when he’s sweet for days or weeks on end. He’s a good man.

Me: Good men don’t beat their boyfriends.

Him: It was complicated. We were shouting at each other, he was destroying things – throwing my things out of the apartment. He screamed about how he’d always paid the rent and he was evicting me. He asked the boy to stay and he did for a while, but then it got so ugly – the boy left. The neighbors came over, threatening to call the police. We argued with them. They called the cops.

Me: How did you get those cuts and bruises?

Him: James hit me. That had happened before.

Me: Wait, how often does he hit you?

(long pause)

Him: It had happened before. Not often, but often enough to make me afraid of setting him off. He’s got chemical imbalances.

Me: Bullshit. He’s a dick. He’s an evil man. That’s not a chemical imbalance – that’s a character flaw.

Him: People go through phases, Michael. People aren’t always kind.

Me: But kindness is always an option. There are folk who won’t treat you like that. There are nice, rich guys that would pamper you and spoil you, and not keep you on high terror lockdown.

(pause)

Him: But I love James.

Me: Did your father hit you?

(long pause)

Him: We were terrified of him, growing up. He wasn’t a nice man.

Me: Okay, so you’re now in a cycle of the same pattern with your boyfriend. Your ex-boyfriend.

Him: Can I stay here for a while?

Me: Obviously. You’re moving in today.

Him: Thank you. I knew you’d help me.

Me: We don’t know each other that well, but I can’t have you walking around like an abused housewife. You’re talented. Have you been singing?

Him: Not really.

Me: You’re joining the band, for a while. You need to get back to what brings you joy.

Him: I can sleep in your bed with you, and we can –

Me: I think that phase of our relationship is over. You can take the couch, or if you have  a date that goes particularly well, I’ll take the couch. We’ll split the chores, and for the first few weeks I’ll buy all the food. If you need to stay more than a month, we can talk about rent, etc. – is that okay?

Him: That’s more than…   Thank you!

Me: How did you get that gash?

Him: He smashed a wine glass on my head, right before the police showed up.

Me: This relationship is over.

Him: We both stayed the night in jail. Different holding cells.

Me: Good lord.

Him: He’d wanted me to get a job, and the funny thing is I’d gotten a retail job, but it wasn’t good enough, or the money wasn’t coming fast enough. I’d only been working there for 10 days. It’s not enough time to develop a clientele, or anything. Plus he was jealous I was ‘flirting with old men in Chelsea’ for a living.

Me: Flirting with old men is your favorite pass time!

Him: Preach. Anyway, I think it’s over. I hope he hasn’t destroyed my things.

Me: We’ll get you new things, or if need be, we can go over there with a bunch of people so he can’t hurt you. Here’s an extra set of keys.

Him: Thanks mister. Do you have an enema? I need to get ready to go out tonight.

Me: Oh Jesus, this is gonna be trouble.

Him: I can behave, too.

Me: No. Just no hard drugs in the apartment, please, and don’t bring over anyone who looks like a junkie or a thief? And no singing after 1am. I have a coke-head neighbor who’s pushy and demanding about his quiet time. Every time I go over there he’s watching porn on multiple screens and cracked out of his skull.

Him: Is he cute?

Me: He’s like… if you smashed Chris Farley together with Golem. Is that your thing?

Him: No, but I like porn.

Me: Look. Here’s the enema. Please don’t leave it out.

Him: Don’t worry, I will!

(pause)

Me: I know, baby.

(pause)

I know you will…

(pause)

You’re safe now.

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Passive Aggressive, Part 1

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Him: Don’t involve me in that ever again.

Me: Excuse me?

Him: You heard me. I don’t want to be part of your circus. I don’t care to sit there while you open a bank account, on a day when we’ve planned to meet for a picnic. You’ve been extremely passive agressive today and I don’t want to be part of whatever game it is you’re playing.

(long pause)

Me: Well… It’s a nice day, and we finally made it to the park. Eat your sandwich, maybe, and you won’t be hangry anymore?

(long pause. we eat. i start to play ukulele.)

Me: Hey, we wrote this song together. Do you remember writing this song?

Him: Yes.

(pause)

Me: Right. We wrote it. Where were we?

(pause)

Me: You don’t remember? We were at your apartment in Cobble Hill. I was complaining about your tendency to hoard things – it’s a real fire hazzard, and I’d twisted my ankle in the clothing/furniture/old paper maze to your bed. It was hot and you had rigged up a ‘fan contraption,’ remember?

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Him: It was two fans working in tandem to circulate the air.

Me: That’s right! I was asking about American Hwangap at the Magic Theater. You said you’d written a chord progression for the end of the show, remember?

(pause)

Me: I said we owed it to Thin Skin Jonny to turn it into a song. Surely you remember?

(pause. i start singing.)

If I said more often,

How good you look…

In the morning time, boy

Wouldn’t that have been fine?

If I told you,

How good you cook

You make your own beef jerky.

Who makes their own beef jerky?

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Would you let me stay?

Would you let me stay?

Hey hey hey.

Would you let me stay?

Ah haaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…..

 

And if I said I’m sorry,

For all the fighting last December,

Would you say, It’s okay –

As far as you remember

If I said I was a lonely boy

Who really really misses you

Can I be the only boy who

Gets to hug and kiss you…

 

I wanna be the only boy-

Would you let me st-

Him: That’s enough.

(pause)

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Me: I’ll stop singing that song, but not because you told me to.

Him: Michael, I’ve moved beyond this. I have completed my grief cycle. I’ve come out the other side a better man.

Me: And I kept singing the songs that made us feel immortal. What’s your point?

Him: You can’t hold on to love for too long. It will burden you. It will anchor you down.

Me: Oh really? I was thinking the opposite. I was thinking that I’m a writer. I’m a songwriter. I’m a playwright. I write comedy for television and star in sketch shows. I was thinking I might keep singing my songs, because you know what? People are buying them now.

(pause)

Do you want writing credit for this, or no? Because I don’t want to deal with a lawsuit later on.

Him: You’re ridiculous and passive agressive to the nth degree and I’m not your boyfriend any longer. I don’t have to put up with it.

Me: Oh. No. You did not. Gurl, you better hold my gold.

Him: You have to let this go.

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Me: No, I don’t. You’re not my boyfriend anymore and I don’t have to put up with you telling me what to do. I can love whomever I want. I can keep loving you, Norman. I can love Carson, too. I can love Andrew forever too, if I want to. I don’t have to do what you tell me to do. How’s that for passive aggressive? Or was that just agressive?

(pause. i play more uke.)

So if I do all the laundry…

If I go and buy all the paper towels,

Will you rent a hall?

Will you write some wedding vows?

If I pick up all my dirty socks.

If I go and put back the toothpaste cap,

When our kid has chicken pox

Will you pick up a midnight snack?

 

And would you let me stay?

Would you let me stay?

Hey hey hey? Hey.

Would you let me stay?

Ah Haaaaaaaaaaaa ah.

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Maybe I’ll change?

Maybe I’ll change.

Maybe I’ll look at myself

I’ll re-arrange things when I change

Ah Haaaaaaaaaaaaa ah.

 

I just realized,

When I saw your eyes.

I don’t want to… Stay….  

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To Be Continued…

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Renegotiate

Sponsored by Girbaud Denim.

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Him: Hey I’m back but I’m really sleepy.

 

Me: Then take a nap at my place, drunky.

 

Him: Allright, I’m heading over, but just to sleep.

 

Me: No. Come to think of it, don’t.

 

Him: Haha. Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow then.

 

Me: Maybe.

 

Him: I’ll check on you tomorrow then?

 

Me: If you remember.

 

Him: I’ll remember.

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Me: So will I. How’s the weather out there? Fair?

 

Him: Slightly chilly, but nice.

 

Me: Better to head home then. I have to txt a friend and ask about coming over to help.

Him: I hope you find a cool roomie.

 

Me: By the way, you shouldn’t stand someone up for a date and then sign on to Grindr. It’s poor etiquette. Dick move, I’d say.

 

Him: You just told me to go home.

 

Me: I need help. I’m not a flop house. You come over and sit. I cook. It’s not equitable. When it’s time to help you suddenly get tired.

 

Him: Fair assessment.

 

Me: Yes. Therefore I’m busy tomorrow. No date.

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Him: That’s the rules we set from the start.

 

Me: Wrong. I was waiting for you to act like a team player.

 

Him: I’m the worst at that.

 

Me: Agree. You’re not dating material. Not even friend material. My friends do the dishes when I cook.

 

Him: You said it was fine to hang out, video games, and fool around, or cuddle. I agreed.

 

Me: I remember that. I’d like to renegotiate. I’m not satisfied with the arrangement anymore.

 

Him: I really don’t want to make you feel un-equitable.

 

Me: Okay, then. Let’s renegotiate?

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Him: I feel like you may need more than I can give.

 

Me: Why? Cause I said let’s go on a date? That’s off the table. How about… do a dish once in awhile? How about don’t act like I’m a pariah if we’re in a gay bar? I don’t really need a boyfriend either; I just asked for a date.

 

(pause)

 

I’m not happy with you wasting my Friday night with your lame excuse last minute. People  ask after my time, you know.

 

(pause)

 

Me: The best negotiations leave everyone happy. Make an offer.

 

Him: You jump moods very quickly and it’s tough to get my feelings through.

 

Me: You don’t speak your feelings. That’s all on you. I think it’s pretty clear how I feel. I asked you to take me on a date. What are your feelings?

 

Him: Not a lot. I wanted to send this quote from Girls but it’s kind of selfish. Let me find it.

 

Me: No. Speak for yourself. This is negotiation. Say what you want. Don’t be lazy and plagiarize another writer’s work. I literally had to cry about my hurt feelings to get a date. That’s not the start of a deeper friendship. You’re standing me up tonight, the night before our official dinner date, and signing on to Grindr. You didn’t even apologize. How passive aggressive can you be?

 

Him: I want nothing.

 

Me: Then you don’t get anything.

 

Him: I wanted something at some point. Now I don’t.

 

Me: Life is about tone and timing. That’s understandable.

 

(pause)

 

Me: We don’t seem to have a deal. I’m still fond of you. These small feelings will extinguish relatively easily. I’ll table my negotiation until after Mother’s day. Have fun alone.

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Him: Many times that’s the best place to be.

 

Me: One thing I’m always saying is that the pair of eyes in the mirror belong to the best boyfriend in the world. It’s another way of reminding myself to go fuck myself. I suggest you do the same.

 

Him: I’m terrible at being on this side of anger.

 

Me: I’m not angry. Speak for yourself. It’s rude to speak for the other party negotiating. And, it doesn’t get anyone what they want. We were tender and sweet to each other. That’s a great thing. We needed creature comfort. I mistook that for us building a small relationship as friends. It’s my bad. Take care. I have to write this down.

 

Him: I still think of our relationship as small. Just much smaller now.

 

Me: Agree. You’re a fair weather friend. You show up when you’re horny, or lonely, or hungry and make me do most of the work. That’s not acceptable. That’s selfish and I won’t accept those terms. No deal.

 

Him: I’ll let you go. I’m sorry we didn’t read things the same way.

 

Me: Your cruelty is quite elegant, but don’t be sorry. I’m already adjusting my expectations. I really must go write something.

 

Him: Okay. Goodnight.


Me: One more thing: Neither of us are Girls, but one of us is in his 20s. Don’t let Lena Dunham speak for you. You speak for you. That’s good negotiation.

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